Watchdogs tell Ryanair to improve rights for consumers

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Nordic consumer watchdogs have demanded that the Irish no-frills airline Ryanair "correct its contract conditions and price advertising", adding that they considered the conditions the airline sets as inconsistent and unfair.

The consumer ombudsmen in Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark have called for a series of changes to the contract conditions, including compensation for passengers if a flight is delayed.

"Ryanair must offer passengers at least a minimum level of consumer rights. The airline's contract conditions do not meet this requirement at present," the Finnish Consumer Agency and Ombudsman said in a statement.

The no-frills airline, run by Michael O'Leary, issued a robust response. "When it comes to who has been unfair to consumers, the consumer agencies should perhaps consider the high-fares monopolies previously controlled by SAS and Finnair in their markets," a spokeswoman for Ryanair said.

The airline argued that its average fare in Europe is €42 (£26), smaller than the Nordic flag carriersFinnair and SAS, and often less than taxi or train fares, adding: "Does a bus company or taxi company provide compensation for delays?"

Ryanair is the biggest no-frills carrier operating in Scandinavia. It has been aggressively targetting SAS, the region's largest airline, in its marketing, saying its fares are typically 90 per cent less than SAS or Finnair.

In the letter sent to Ryanair by the Nordic regulators, they also demanded that Ryanair allow passengers to transfer tickets to third parties, that it include all taxes and charges in its marketing and it provide contract conditions in Finnish and at least one Scandinavian language. They also said the airline's right to pass on passengers' personal data must be limited, or it should at least specify to its clients in which situations data can be passed on.

Ryanair said it did allow passengers to change the name of the person travelling and/or the date of travel up to three hours before departure, its website detailed terms and conditions in Finnish and Swedish and it never passed on personal details without the permission of customers.